Are you a Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) practitioner looking to add more techniques to your arsenal? Do you want to learn more about heel hooks and how to execute them properly? If so, you’ve come to the right place! In this guide, we will discuss everything you need to know about heel hooks in BJJ, including their history, how to execute them, and how to defend against them.
What is a heel hook?
A heel hook is a submission hold used in BJJ and other grappling arts that targets the opponent’s ankle and knee joints. The goal of the technique is to apply pressure to the heel, twisting the ankle and knee in opposite directions, which can cause significant damage to the ligaments and tendons.
In BJJ, there are two types of heel hooks: the inside heel hook and the outside heel hook. The inside heel hook targets the opponent’s inside leg, while the outside heel hook targets the opponent’s outside leg.
History of heel hooks in BJJ
Heel hooks have been a part of BJJ for many years, but their use has been controversial due to the potential for serious injury. In the past, heel hooks were considered a “dirty” move and were often banned from competitions. However, in recent years, many BJJ organizations have allowed heel hooks in certain divisions.
The first recorded use of a heel hook in BJJ competition was by Rickson Gracie in the early 1990s. Since then, many BJJ practitioners have added the technique to their arsenal, and it has become a staple of modern BJJ.
Legal and safety considerations of heel hooks
While heel hooks can be a devastating submission hold, they also carry a high risk of injury. In fact, some BJJ organizations have banned the technique outright due to concerns about safety.
It is important to note that heel hooks are not legal in all BJJ competitions, and even in competitions where they are allowed, they may be restricted to certain belt levels or age groups. It is also important to practice heel hooks safely and under the supervision of a qualified instructor.
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How to properly execute a heel hook
To properly execute a heel hook, you must first establish control of your opponent’s leg. From there, you will isolate the foot and begin to apply pressure to the heel, twisting the ankle and knee in opposite directions.
The key to a successful heel hook is to apply steady pressure while keeping the foot and knee in the proper position. You should also be prepared to adjust your grip and angle of attack as your opponent tries to defend against the submission.
Common mistakes to avoid when executing a heel hook
One common mistake when executing a heel hook is failing to establish control of your opponent’s leg before attempting the submission. Another common mistake is not keeping the foot and knee in the proper position, which can make it difficult to apply pressure to the heel.
It is also important to avoid using too much force when applying a heel hook, as this can lead to injury. Instead, focus on applying steady, controlled pressure to the ankle and knee joints.
Finally, it is important to be aware of the potential for your opponent to counter the heel hook. This can include rolling out of the submission or attempting to defend against the pressure on their heel.
How to defend against a heel hook
If your opponent attempts to apply a heel hook, there are several defenses you can use to escape the submission. One common defense is to roll out of the submission, which can allow you to escape the pressure on your ankle and knee.
Another defense is to “tap out” or submit, which is a signal to your opponent that you concede the match. While tapping out may not be the ideal outcome, it is better than risking serious injury.
Other defenses against the heel hook include shifting your weight, using your free leg to push away your opponent, and countering with a submission of your own.
The best setups for the heel hook
To successfully execute a heel hook, you must first set up the submission properly. There are many ways to do this, but some of the most effective setups include the leg drag, the X-guard, and the single-leg X-guard.
The leg drag involves dragging your opponent’s leg across your body to set up the heel hook. The X-guard and single-leg X-guard involve controlling your opponent’s leg and setting up the heel hook from there.
The importance of drilling and repetition in learning heel hooks
Like any technique in BJJ, learning the heel hook requires practice and repetition. It is important to drill the technique under the guidance of a qualified instructor and to practice with a partner who is willing to give you feedback and help you improve.
It is also important to practice heel hooks at a variety of angles and from a variety of positions, as this will help you become comfortable with the technique and better able to execute it in real-world situations.
How to incorporate heel hooks into your BJJ game
If you want to incorporate heel hooks into your BJJ game, it is important to start slowly and focus on the basics. Begin by drilling the technique with a partner, focusing on proper positioning and applying steady pressure.
Once you are comfortable with the technique, you can start to incorporate it into your sparring sessions. Be sure to start slow and focus on proper technique, and gradually build up to more advanced techniques and higher intensity sparring.
When and where to use heel hooks in competition
If you are considering using heel hooks in competition, it is important to be aware of the rules and regulations of the tournament. Some tournaments do not allow heel hooks at all, while others may restrict them to certain age groups or belt levels.
It is also important to be aware of the potential for injury when using heel hooks in competition. While the submission can be effective, it can also be dangerous if not executed properly.
The heel hook is a powerful submission hold that can be a valuable addition to your BJJ game. However, it is important to practice the technique safely and under the guidance of a qualified instructor. By following the tips and strategies outlined in this guide, you can learn how to execute the heel hook properly and defend against it when necessary.
It depends on the tournament and the rules and regulations in place. Some tournaments allow heel hooks, while others do not. Always be sure to check the rules before competing.
Yes, the heel hook can be a dangerous submission hold if not executed properly. It is important to practice the technique safely and under the guidance of a qualified instructor.
The inside heel hook targets the opponent’s inside leg, while the outside heel hook targets the opponent’s outside leg.
There are several defenses you can use to escape a heel hook, including rolling out of the submission, tapping out, shifting your weight, and countering with a submission of your own.
Yes, beginners can learn the heel hook, but it is important to start slowly and focus on proper technique. Always practice the technique safely and under the guidance of a qualified instructor.